If Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has anything to say about it, every transportation planner in the country should have a shiny new engineering guide on his or her bookshelf.
It’s been six months since the National Association of City Transportation Officials released the Urban Bikeways Design Guide in an online format. Yesterday, LaHood was among the first to hold the print edition in his very-excited hands, providing a ringing endorsement for its widespread adoption.
It would have been a bittersweet moment, coming only hours after LaHood told reporters that he would be aone-term transportation secretary – if the attendees had heard the news by then, which most of them hadn’t.
Before the most bike-friendly transportation secretary in U.S. history took the podium, another groundbreaking policymaker — Janette Sadik-Khan, New York City Transportation Commissioner — set the stage. Sadik-Khan is more than the architect of NYC’s next-gen bike infrastructure; she’s also the president of NACTO. So, she proudly raised a copy and called the guide a compendium of “everything you need to know to bring world-class bikeways to city streets.”
With American cities constantly struggling to implement cycling facilities that have long been the norm in Europe, NACTO created the guide to speed adoption of bicycling infrastructure by speaking directly to planners and engineers in their specialized technical lingo. By compiling a manual written by American city officials, for American city officials, Sadik-Khan said, the guide will give cash-strapped municipalities the certainty they need to view cycling facilities as proven traffic applications, not costly experiments. By putting all the engineering specs on paper, she added, it will help cities move beyond the rigid design standards that have limited bike infrastructure in the past.